The Chinese professional football (Super League), which suffered from the hellish corona era, will open on the 15th. Everything is incomplete and tight, with the opening schedule being announced just a week ago. On the 7th, CNN reported the process of the downfall of Chinese football under the title, ‘Xi Jinping wanted China to become a global football powerhouse, but what went wrong?’
In 2011, Xi Jinping presented a vision to make China a soccer powerhouse. The vision included qualifying for the World Cup finals, hosting the World Cup, and winning the World Cup. In 2016, the Chinese Football Association also announced a plan to make China a ‘global football powerhouse’ by 2050. CNN said, “It’s a Chinese dream driven by the same ambition that China has risen from poverty to second place in the world in decades.” Few people doubted Xi Jinping’s determination at the time.
For its dream, China has spent huge amounts of money to recruit world-class players. Alex Teixeira signed a contract with Jiangsu for $54 million. The same Brazilian Hulk transferred to the Chinese league for $60 million and Oscar for $65 million. China recorded a total of $451 million in transfer fees during the boom period of 2015-2016, making it the fifth most expensive league in the world. At the time, most of the places that operated soccer teams were state-owned conglomerates and developers who were caught up in the real estate boom. CNN said, “poor financial decisions, a three-year coronavirus pandemic, and high-level corruption allegations have ruined football.”
As the coronavirus hit the economy and the real estate market stagnated, funding for state-owned enterprises and developers was drained. When the government applied strict epidemic rules, the number of fans and sponsors who watched football decreased significantly. The club was forced to struggle to pay wages. Many foreign players and coaches have left China due to overdue wages or cuts in wages, and the Chinese government’s tough coronavirus policy, which has made it difficult for them to see their families. CNN said, “The Chinese government granted Chinese nationality to foreign players, but many of them gave up their Chinese citizenship and left China.”
A strange decision by the Chinese Football Association fueled the collapse of the Super League. In 2017, the association raised the tax that clubs have to pay when recruiting foreign players under the pretext of fostering local talent. Clubs had to tighten their belts even more, and teams that had just won the Super League, such as Guangzhou Evergrande and Jiangsu Suning, were relegated to lower leagues due to financial difficulties or had to disband their clubs. Hebei FC also had difficulty paying water and electricity bills, let alone wages.
This year’s Super League will be operated in a way that 16 teams will participate and each team will play 30 games home and away. The number of participating teams decreased by two compared to last year. Last year, the first and second place teams took a direct ticket to the Asian Champions League finals, but this year, only one team in first place.
China has tried its own way to turn the situation around, such as appointing Aleksandar Jankovic from Serbia as the head coach of the men’s national soccer team, but to no avail. The Chinese men’s national team has suffered fierce criticism and ridicule from fans after failing to live up to their hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup by beating Vietnam 1-3 in February 2022. The Chinese men’s national football team is ranked 81st in the FIFA rankings. The number of tickets for the 2026 World Cup in North and Central America allocated to Asia has nearly doubled to eight, but currently China is only 11th in Asia. CNN said,안전놀이터 “The women’s national team may be the only hope for Chinese soccer.” “The Chinese women’s national soccer team, ranked 14th in the world, won the Asian Cup last year and is considered a dark horse in the Women’s World Cup in July.” CNN predicted, “Recently, various corruption allegations have been raised in Chinese football,” and “the possibility that China will host the World Cup is extremely small at present.”